Two-tier plant table

Getting ready for the opening of the farmers market at the  Fort Erie Racetrack in June has been an extremely busy time for us. It was unseasonably cold for the whole month of April. so I had to start everything indoors. I took over the dining room, which had easy access to the deck. Every morning I hauled 15 trays of succulents and about twenty potted arrangements outside, to get some sun, and then brought them back in again every evening.

When the temperatures picked up (the first week of May!), we took everything down to the garden, but it was still too cold at night so they all went into  the two cold-frames in the vegetable garden.springtime activities 106

We also have about one hundred perennials potted up, so keeping all this lot watered was becoming a back-breaking  chore. When the rain barrel ran dry and I had to hike it round to the other side of the house to fetch water from the other barrel my back started to complain. I was going to have to use tap water to save my back. Or was I?

We have two big piles of skids waiting to be turned into rustic wood signs, so I thought we might as well use those to make some tables. When I say we, I really mean Pat. I’m just the designer. One of these days I will get him to show me how to use all the equipment, you know, when we get five minutes to ourselves for some woodworking lessons.

Adding that top part was pure genius on his part as far as I’m concerned. He cranked three of these out in about three hours. Next up, move all the plants and that’s my job.

From the cold-frames to the tables. Watering is going to be so much easier now. Especially since it rained all night and the rain-barrels are  full. Everything is coming up roses!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2015 Year review

100_3543I haven’t posted very much in the last two months, what with  the market, craft shows, and Christmas preparations.  I had every intention of blogging about all the Christmas shenanigans, took loads of pictures, and then, never actually seemed to have time to sit down and write. On top of everything else I got sick on Christmas day and that laid me up for six days.

Anyways, I’m on the mend now and thought I would review the amazing year I’ve just had. Things started happening around the beginning of June when I decided that I would finally retire after working at the same company for thirty years.  Six weeks later all the paper work was finalized and I spent my last day at work on July 18th.  My co-workers threw me a party and presented me with a gift basket full of gardening goodies, since they know that gardening is my passion.

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On July 21st I set up my very first exhibit at the Fort Erie Racetrack Farmers Market. I decided to go with my strengths and sell plants. Mostly succulent planters and some perennials.

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I was amassing quite the collection of succulents through propagation and needed a good sturdy work bench, so my husband Pat built me a great potting table.

Woebegone. Did I really just write that?

In early August we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary.  I know its a cliché, but I seriously don’t know where the time went. Good times.

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I spent a busy week with two of my grandchildren during the summer holidays. They always know I will have lots of crafts for them to do and they get stuck right in.

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Morgan with some of her artwork, that she is about to apply to that painting on the wall behind her

Kevin with his lego creation

Kevin with his lego creation

Fort Erie celebrates the War of 1812 every year with a re-enactment taking place on the grounds of the Old Fort. We always take Kevin to it because he loves to see all the soldiers. This year I made him a Red Coat costume, and we spent the day wandering around all the displays.

He’s definitely on the side of the British!!

In late September we took some time and flew out to the west coast to spend some time with my daughter, Becky. Thoroughly enjoyed two sunny weeks in the  San Francisco area.

Becky and Betty

Shortly after our return, I had a mishap with a piece of glitter and spent 14 hours in three different hospitals, but these three girls took good care of me.

Florence Nightingales

Florence Nightingales

The Market, ran right  thru to Thanksgiving Sunday.Since it was so close to Halloween, a couple of us dressed up and had quite a good time.

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I’m the one in the black and red cape

One of the girls invited me to be an exhibitor at an upcoming craft show, so I thought why not. Good opportunity to sell my left-over stock. I had also been selling wreaths and Christmas trees the last few weeks of the market, so I went in to over-drive  and produced enough stock for a two-day show.

I did so well, I exhibited at another two shows leading up to Christmas. Because I had pretty much sold out at the first show, I had to fire up the production line again. Luckily for me the weather was unseasonably warm and I was able to make quite a lot of bespoke products outside.

Halloween was just around the corner as well, so Morgan and Kevin came over to help me decorate.

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they did a fine job

Before you know it, December 1st rolls around and its time to decorate and get ready for Christmas.  I always go all out and this year was no different. Well, except for the fact that I decided I needed one of the “flocked” Christmas trees. Two weeks before Christmas they came on sale, so I treated myself. Best tree I’ve ever had.

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All in all, a great year. See you in 2016

 

 

 

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Some Pre-Market Selling

Blackeyed Susan.

Blackeyed Susan.

Every Saturday morning we like to get up at the crack of dawn to go “sailing”…garage sailing that is! Last week we didn’t go because I found out on Friday night that two  neighbours were holding garage sales. Not one to miss an opportunity, I went into  overdrive. I made signs, cleared everything off the two tables in the garage, brought all  the plants into the garage, and found the pricing gun.

Open for business.

Open for business.

I didn’t expect to do very well because your typical garage sailor is not looking for  plants, they are looking for treasures.  But I thought I might get some good exposure by telling people about my stall at the market Sunday mornings.

My first customer was a recently retired lady who volunteers at the High School  greenhouse, for the special needs program. She was very taken with my succulent planters and wanted to take pictures for her students.

Say cheese.

Say cheese.

Later on I recognized a woman whose garage sale I had been at weeks earlier, so I  know she is an avid gardener. She pretty much bought all my perennials. I could see  she wanted a garden tour, so I showed her round my yard. I have about ten varieties of hostas, but when she saw my common hostas she said that it is hard to find them now.  I went and got a spade and dug them up for her. She tried to pay me but I said there’s  no charge, I just enjoy sharing my gardening efforts with a kindred spirit. Apparently, I  made her day. (See, you don’t have to trick me into sharing my plants with you!)

My rare common hostas. Ha!

My rare common hostas. Ha!

All in all it was worth all the hard work because of the exposure I got.

How to make a skid planter

You may have noticed that I like to bring new life to old stuff that other people don’t want anymore. One of my favourite re-purposing projects is turning old skids into rustic planters.

Skids.

Skids.

My husband Pat plays a big part in the production of the skid planters, because they are too big for me to handle. He brings them home, cuts them up, and bashes them back together…to my specifications, of course.

Handsome and handy.

Handsome and handy.

In the beginning, we burned quite a lot of wood because even though the end product looks pretty simple, getting there was a different story. Here’s how you can make your own skid planter:

Wear thick work gloves when handling the original skid. Pat got quite a few slivers at first.

Start small. If you create a planter using the whole width of the skid it will be too heavy once it is planted.

Half width is perfection.

Half width is perfection.

Give all the edges a thorough sanding. This will not only keep you safe from slivers when handling, it gives the planter a more polished look.

From rough to polished.

From rough to polished.

Line the box with garden fabric before filling with soil to prevent soil leakage.

Line it!

Line it!

PLANT some plants! (See my post on how to plant a succulent garden container for some tips).

Tah-dah!

Tah-dah!

First Day at the Market

Hats off to farmers everywhere! Well, independent ones anyway. After toiling morning, noon and night to grow their crops, they then have to harvest it and then take it to the market. As, I discovered yesterday, this involves getting up at the crack of dawn to load your product into your vehicle, along with your set-up gear, tables etc. After you make sure everything is secure and won’t get crushed on the first corner you take, it’s off to the races. Literally, since I was now the proud owner of a booth at the Fort Erie Racetrack Farmers Market.

Car all packed.

Car all packed.

We got there half hour before the market manager so couldn’t set up since she was the one who was assigning “the spot”. I had opted to go indoors since our collapsible tent and permanently collapsed about two years ago. 90 degree temperatures in the blazing sun made this a good decision.

When the manager finally arrived we got to work. We were allowed to pull right up to the doors to unload. Good job too because some of those planters were extremely heavy. By the time we had unloaded, Pat had to leave, he’s coaching my grandsons U12 soccer team and they were in a tournament in Buffalo, so I was on my own!100_1410100_1415

I spent the next hour setting up, good job I had done a trial setup earlier in the week. I was ready just in time, the first customers started coming in and heading my way. I’m not a salespersons at all, I let my planters do all the talking. People will either want one or they wont. The only thing I did to encourage purchasers was to offer a small free gift with purchase. I made a couple of sales within the first hour and then things slowed down, all the punters headed back to the track. A few people said they would be back at the end of the day, but, how often have you said that yourself at a craft show, just to be polite.

I spent the next couple of hours rearranging the table, reading a new book, and talking to the other vendors. Pat came back around four thirty, he spelled me for half an hour so I could go outside and see what was going on, and then he also went to bet on the horses and watch them run. He came back after the last race and a good job too. All those people that said they would be back, well, they came back and for the next hour I was extremely busy. Its true what they say – when it rains, it pours.

All in all, a good day at the track for nanajen!

How to Plant a Succulent Garden Container

  1. Pick an interesting container.

    Some container options. I chose the shallow plate.

    Some container options. I chose the shallow plate.

  2. Succulents need a gritty mix of soil, so I like to make my own. I use basic potting soil and then add grit and perlite. Some nurseries sell potting mix especially for succulents, but not in this small town!

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    Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!

  3. You will need a few tools . I bought these miniature trowels at the dollar store, they are extremely handy for getting in tight spaces. You will also need a sharp pair of scissors, some kind of brush, and I like to use a dibbler to make the right size and shape hole.11816026_10153360429165020_1173529501_n

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    Tiny tools.

  4. Plant selection. Always try to plant in odd numbers. This also applies to your regular garden as well. I usually plant three. A spiller, a tall one and then a thriller. I use sedums from my own garden to save on costs, the others I buy at local nurseries. I’m always on the lookout for sales. By the end of July you can usually find some great deals. Another way to save on costs is to propagate your own.

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    So many options.

  5. Once you have selected the plants you will be using, place them in the container without actually planting them, play with them a little bit until it looks ‘just right. Rule of thumb, spillers to the front, tall ones to the back, and thriller somewhere in between.IMG_0244
  6. General planting tips. If your plant doesn’t come loose from its container easily, try tapping gently on the side. If the plant has become root-bound, tease the roots apart with your fingers. Don’t worry if a section of plant breaks off when handling, just pop it into a pot of its own and water well for about a week.
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  7. Once your container is planted you should give the plants a good drink. I always use a long-spouted can, not the sprinkler kind. I’m a firm believer in not getting the leaves wet, always water at the base of the plant.
  8. I like to top-dress the soil with pea gravel. For no other reason than I think It justs looks better. Then I add some kind of ornament for whimsy. Sometimes I like to add seashells as well. I have quite a collection of shells from all our winter holidays. My husband always brings back a collection, I don’t know why. Well, know we have found a use for them.

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    Pea gravel.

  9. Voila.  You are now the proud owner of your own succulent container garden.

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    Tah-dah!

Off to the races!

Succulent Gardens — courtesy of Becky Young

Tomorrow my succulents and I will be at the Fort Erie Farmer’s Market. I have been prepping my table all week and even have a special outfit picked out. I guess you could say that I am pretty excited.

If you’re at the Market, stop by and say hi. And if you are interested in succulent gardening, here are some quick tips that will help make sure your plants have a long life:

Sunlight
Bright, but indirect. If your plant looks discoloured or bends significantly towards the sun, it needs more shade. If new growth is light green and elongated, it needs more light.

Water
Room-temperature rainwater or distilled water is best. Never overwater. If leaves become too soft and droopy, you’re watering too much.

Temperature
Daytime temperatures between 21-29C are ideal, however they can thrive with temps as low as 4C. Bring them indoors for the winter months.